Happy Monday everyone! I can’t believe it’s already May! Where did the time go? Even with all that’s going on, I feel like this past week is going by a lot faster than normal. The days are gone before I know it lol. But today, it’s time for me to review and talk about the new Nightwish album! Those of you that have followed me for any length of time know that I love metal music and Nightwish is my band 🙂 Their newest album Human. Nature came out on April 10th but I wanted to take a bit longer than normal to listen to it and really assemble my thoughts, especially since it’s a double album. I will add any of the music video or lyric videos that are available so you can listen to them! The videos are from the band’s official YouTube channel or from Nuclear Blast Records which is their record label.
Background: This album is the first Nightwish album in 5 years since their previous one, Endless Forms Most Beautiful. The keyboard player, Tuomas Holopaianen is the main writer for the lyrics and the music for the band. You can see many interviews on YouTube where he talks about the inspiration. But essentially, the first half of the double album are normal songs by the band and these songs are the “Human” side. Songs like the single “Noise” is an example. Then, the second part of the album is all instrumental (with a narrator reading a few sections of poetry) and the instrumental is the “Nature” side. Plus, the album artwork above is so cool! The band wanted to find the oldest symbols that represented “Human” and “Nature,” so they reached out to an archaeologist to find those symbols. I like how they literally show the album title in the artwork with using real symbols!
1. Music: This the song that introduces the “Human” side of the album and MAN what an intro it is! We get a slow building instrumental introduction for about 3 minutes before Floor’s vocals come in. This intro gives me chills EVERY single time I listen to this song! The way it builds slowly until it’s epic and grand. There’s something similar to Gregorian chants in here, with pipes and drums to make it sound archaic. The theme to me is how music comes to mankind and how someone could describe what music is like. Since music is universal to all of us, Floor’s gorgeous soaring voice and the different shifts in musical tone offer the grandeur that music. This is now a new classic and favorite Nightwish song of mine! 10/10
2. Noise: This was the first single that the band released back in February and I did a reaction post about this song right after it came out. This was also the first music video, with amazing interpretations of human behavior like Instagram models, a pill addict, a hypocrite with nature and politics, etc. This song was different for the band, since they never make “statements” in their music like other artists. But I think our attachment to social media, instant gratification are so timely and they show it SO well in the video. The lyrics and their pointed, but true words won’t get out of your head. If you’re at all curious of who Nightwish is, check out the video. This is the second new favorite song for me on this album! 10/10
3. Shoemaker: This song was inspired by a real geologist Eugene Shoemaker. He was a scientist who was going to go on the Apollo mission to the Moon, but was disqualified due to his Addington’s disease. But he helped with science pertaining to space and after he died in a car accident, some of his ashes were spread on the moon by the Lunar Prospector space probe. His ashes were spread in the lunar south pole in the Shoemaker crater that was named after him. There’s also a quote from Romeo & Juliet that’s read in the song and it was on Shoemaker’s urn. The singer Floor Jansen says that the song does not have a typical song structure and that it was very complex to sing due to the complex melodies combined with the lyrics. But I think it’s so cool that this song is about a man who wanted to go to the stars and in the end, he did. It’s a great combination of longing for the stars and a metal edge. Another great song! 9/10
4. Harvest: Here’s where things can get a bit interesting. This song is actually polarizing for Nightwish fans due to the folk type sound it has. They don’t do this type of genre but it’s so calming and uplifting. Troy Donockley, who mainly plays the uilleann pipes and also does vocals, takes over as the main vocalist in this song. This sound shows a human’s love for nature and how we can feel about the world around us. Plus the chorus where Floor joins Troy is a wonderful, nearly acapella chorus! My favorite part was a musical shift were the metal riff comes in with the pipes to make a fantastic melody you could even dance to. 9/10
5. Pan: *start head banging here* This is another EPIC song on the album! From what I gather from the lyrics, this is a song about stories and how we as human have a need for stories. I feel like this song shows our power and capability for creativity. The melodies are the best part for me, especially parts that totally remind me of Alice in Wonderland with the lyrics and rhythm. I can tell that the live version is gonna amazing with its really fast melody and entrancing vocals from Floor once again, along with backing vocals from bassist Marko Hietala. Creative people unite for this wonderful song. 10/10
6. How’s the Heart?: This song gets real. This is another slight shift musically for the band but the lyrics about how humans hide what they feel but those who try to reach out in love make this really meaningful. We hide our pain and we can suffer, but we have such a drive for reaching out and feeling love and kindness. Watching the lyric video below (which is the newest from the band), I really paid attention the lyrics and its a great ballad. This album covered our greed, selfishness, awe at nature, our drive for creativity but now we share a ballad about the more tender side of human kind. It’s not a major favorite of mine but the message hits home and delivers an emotional and timely song. 8/10
7. Procession: This is quite the lyric heavy song I’ve seen from the band since their epic 24 minute track The Greatest Show on Earth on the last album. With a vulnerable but quite and piercing performance from Floor (who is my singing idol), this song and video shows how the planet comes to be and sadly, the bad things we do to our planet. I feel like the Earth has a voice in this song as it tells how different forms of life on Earth come to be. Tuomas had said in a quick video on the band’s YouTube channel that in order to really get the message of the song is to dive deep into the lyrics. These lyrics are so tender, but brutally honest and it’s a masterpiece of emotion in music. Again, it’s not a top favorite for me but I love the message and can’t wait to hear it live. 8/10
8. Tribal: Now this is a BEAST of a song! The lyrics are not very long in this song which was interesting but because of that, the song is very percussion heavy and has such an entrancing sound. The drummer had to add 5 more drums on his left side to be even able to play this song and some others on the album which is crazy. This song talks about the early days of how man found stories and also began to preach of stories. Part of it has an old sound to it, while also adding different styles of music and singing to make it a heavy and great song. This song is where the drummer Kai Hahto truly shines in his drum work and it’s something to listen to and behold. Plus Marko adds some dark, grunting sounds in the background to make it sound more tribal. You don’t need a lot of lyrics to make an impact and this one really does. 9/10
9. Endlessness: This is the final track for the Human side of the album and the bassist Marko takes over on this song. I’ve been a huge fan of Marko since he joined the band in 2002. He has an awesome voice and aggressive playing style. But also, this song is a beast of a song as far as the lyrics are concerned. I feel like you can interpret it however you see it as far as who is speaking and what the song pertains to. I personally think the voice in the lyrics is an omnipotent voice like Time and how it sees the vastness and the world around it. While Marko’s voice does go in a bit of strange tone at times, I still think he’s an amazing artist. Plus, it’s great to have Floor come in later and add a more epic and soaring vocals to close out the track. This song does reflect some of the band’s earlier work as far as the melodies, the lyrics are definitely on a deeper level and I think it might require a few listens to have the lyrics drive home. It’s not a favorite by me but I love seeing how they’re broadening their scope and evolving as a band. 7/10
Final rating for part one “Human”: 8.5/10
This first side of the double album was pretty awesome! I know that no matter how long the wait for a new Nightwish album is, it is worth the wait. They bring different topics to these songs, like how we reach out to one another, the chaos of social media and the magic of a harvest with a folk sound. While a couple songs have been divisive among longtime fans, I always like to see what they’ll bring to the table. But they have grown so much as a band and on a music level, the music and technical skill is freaking masterpiece! Plus Floor Jansen is my singing idol with how she can be vulnerable, quiet, then powerful, brutal and amazing all at once. While I do like their previous album a tiny bit more, this band still means a lot to me and I can’t wait to see them live one day.
1. All the Works Which Adorn the World: Vista: This is the beginning track to the “Nature” side of the double album. It opens with a quote from Byron that’s spoken: “There is a pleasure in the pathless woods/There is a rapture on the lonely shore/There is society, where none intrudes/by the deep sea, and the music in its roar: I love not man the less, but nature more.” Then a wonderful cello piece opens the actual instrumental piece. Then, Floor does a light soprano, wordless note in the background with the the choir. I couldn’t help but feel like I was seeing Tolkein’s elves in this song with its mature but somewhat somber melody. Like the Elves were leaving their lands for the Grey Havens. While that’s my own interpretation, it’s a good intro piece. 7/10
2. All the Works Which Adorn the World: The Blue: This next piece is one of the highlights in the piece! The cello continues its solo with an epic melody with drums to back it up. This piece makes me think of the roaring ocean, of the creatures that dominate and swim through its waters. It reminds me of sharks chasing prey, waves crashing on shores, blue whales wandering the deep, etc. It really invokes the oceanic imagery when I listen. The choir offers some both flowing and staccato to bounce off the cello. I also like the finishing touch of normal ocean sounds, birds and bells to close out the piece. If you’re also a lover of soundtracks, this kind of music will really appeal to you. 10/10
3. All the Works Which Adorn the World: The Green: Another gorgeous highlight of this large instrumental piece! This is a more piano centric piece and if you’re an Enya fan, this completely sounds like something that would be on one of her albums. The piano, woodwinds, harp and other percussion just take me back to some of the wonderful moments of nature I’ve been to, where it’s all majestic, quiet and somewhat isolated. This is calming, but bright and just wonderful. If you’re having a hard day, I really recommend pulling this up on YouTube! 10/10
4. All the Works Which Adorn the World: Moors: This next piece highlights Troy’s skills with his uilleann pipes, which I always love to hear. Then it gets bombastic and a bit darker with the drums and the choir in the background. This almost reminds me of Chernabog from Fantastia in those darker moments instead of the Moors which is interesting. But those darker moments don’t last long and the pipes come back in with other soaring instruments in the background. Another good piece! 7/10
5. All the Works Which Adorn the World: Aurorae: This is the shortest piece in the instrumental piece and it’s sad with show short it is. I love how fast and skilled the harpist is in this piece. Then we have some faster moments with drums, strings and what sounds like a keyboard. This piece feels someone flying towards a battle or towards something grand and I feel like we only get the potential of what this piece could be if it was longer. 8/10
6. All Works Which Adorn the World: Quiet as the Show: This is a quick shift from Aurorae, with providing whispers and piano with occasional harp and strings. The whispers provide a mystery as to what they’re saying and the strings provide a beautiful contrast to the hushed voices. I don’t get a ton of imagery from this when I listen to it, but it’s a good piece of quieter music and wonderful harmonies. 7/10
7. All Works Which Adorn the World: Anthropocene (including “Hurrian Hymn to Nikkal”): According to online sources, Nikkal was an ancient goddess whose name is also “Goddess of the Fruit.” The Hurrian music included here, while incomplete, is the oldest annotated music piece known to us. It’s recorded at being over 3200 years old. Pieces of ancient pottery depicting Nikkal were discovered in Syria in the 1950’s. Knowing how much they keyboard player loves nature as well as history, it’s cool for this piece of have a major significance. While this does remind me of a Tim Burton movie at times, it is cool to have learn some history from the background of this piece. It’s not my favorite but a perfectly fine piece. 6/10
8. All Works Which Adorn the World: Ad Astra: This final piece has a long quote from Carl Sagan being spoken throughout the piece.The quote is: “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.“ Like their massive track on the previous album “The Greatest Show on Earth,” this final piece takes a large scope on humanity. It seems like this piece shows humanity and the vastness of life around us from the feeling the music gives me. But I do have to say that I prefer their much larger piece I just mentioned more. This one is just okay for me personally. The ending with Jansen’s wordless vocals is the best part as the piece closes however. 5/10
Final Rating for “Nature” side: 7/10
This instrumental side is my least favorite of the double album. I think I had higher expectations of how epic or how long some of the songs would be. While “The Green” and “The Blue” are major standouts, some of these pieces were either too simple, too much spoken word or too simple from what I had expected. But if you do love soundtracks, I do recommend check out the two tracks I mentioned. The keyboard player who composes the music seriously does need to do a video game or film soundtrack because he’s so talented with tackling stuff like this. I’m very interested to see how they’ll do these instrumental pieces live when they can do shows again.
What did you think of this album? If you’re new to this band, did you like the songs if you listened to them? Let me know in the comments!